Thursday, April 7, 2016

How to Choose a Paint Color for Exterior Stairs

Before - Stair Risers Accented in the Trim Color
It's fairly common to see front stairs and risers painted different colors, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's the best approach. I believe that the only details that should be painted an accent color are the ones that deserve the attention, and stair risers usually don't qualify for the spotlight. 

In the "Before" picture the stair risers were painted in the trim color and the deck and stair treads were painted a green that clashed with the yellow walls and the cement walkway. Between the excessive accenting and the color clashes, far too much was going on. 

The house was about to go on the market and it was essential that the picture of the exterior for the MLS listing have maximum appeal. In a perfect world I would have recommended a color change for the walls, front door and storm door, but that wasn't in the budget. 

After - Treads, Risers and Deck Painted One Color
The deck and stairs were in poor condition and had to be painted. That created the opportunity to make the house a little bit more photogenic by correcting the color disharmony and reducing the number of accented details.  

I recommended using a single color on the deck, treads and risers, one that was chosen to coordinate with the house and cement walkway.  In the "After"  picture you see the benefits of treating the stairs and deck as a single unit. 

Some Color Considerations for Exterior Stairs

Here are some color considerations for exterior stairs, particularly front stairs:
  • What are the colors in the permanent details of the house and landscaping, such as in roof, walkways, stone foundation, key flowering plants, etc.? You have to consider all these colors when choosing the stair color.
  • What paint colors are used on the house and trim (wall color, front door color, trim color(s), etc.)? Do they work well with the permanent details? The stair color should coordinate with everything. You might be able to use the stair color to create more color harmony between the house colors and the colors of the permanent details, if needed. 
  • Consider the architecture of the house. Are there already lots of accents, or does the house need more? If more pizzazz is needed, are accented stairs the best way to provide it?
I think restraint is usually the best approach to accenting, so my preference in most cases is to use a single color for stair treads and risers. As the "Before" and "After" pictures demonstrate, using one color creates better flow because your eye takes in the stairs as a single unit, as opposed to seeing the stair components. 

What you might have thought to be a simple matter, painting the stairs, is in fact something that has a big effect and deserves thought.

When it comes to color selection, whether it's for stairs, the whole exterior, or for the inside of your house, success comes down to choosing the right colors and using them in the right places. Color selection is the phase that receives the most emphasis, but I believe that where you put the colors is equally important. Color placement done correctly is a powerful tool that can correct many design shortcomings, showcase the best, hide the rest and help your house live up to its potential.

If you have a painting project coming up and would like help with choosing and placing colors, call me at 828-692-4355 to schedule a color and design consultation. If we do the painting for you, this help is a free part of our services.